Jerez test day 1: McLaren Top times Despite Technical Issues
Posted By:   |  05 Feb 2013   |  7:53 pm GMT  |  102 comments

As the new F1 cars got down to business on the first day of testing in Jerez, Jenson Button and McLaren overcame an early on-track stoppage to top the time sheets by a considerable margin, ahead of Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean. But there were troubles for Mercedes too, as they were forced to cut the opening day short with electrical problems.

Two red flags in the morning caused by Button and Nico Rosberg put the brakes on their respective programmes, with Rosberg the most hampered as Mercedes opted to call it a day and solve the issue before Lewis Hamilton takes over on Wednesday.

Mercedes had an electrical issue, which sparked a small fire as bodywork became heated. McLaren were struck with a fuel pump problem and had to wait until the final ninety minutes of the session to set their first lap time of 2013.

They were able to make amends for lost time during a flurry of laps in the final half an hour of the day. Button completed two laps fast enough for the top spot on Pirelli’s new hard compound tyre during a short, light-fuelled run. His lap of 1m 18.861s was almost a second faster than the fastest time on Day 1 in Jerez last year.

McLaren conducted an eight lap run on the medium tyre, during which Button set an average lap time of 1:24.1s – faster than any others over a run of similar length.

Webber had a quiet day as the Champion team went about their testing as under stated as ever. And it was not until a short run on the medium tyre in the final hour that Webber could overhaul long-time pace setter, Grosjean.

Grosjean was the first to break the 80-second barrier during a short hard-clad run in the morning and went on to concentrate on longer runs in the afternoon.

Paul Di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo behind had a promising first day in their new Force India and Toro Rosso machinery. They, along with Webber, Nico Hulkenberg on his first day with Sauber and Pastor Maldonado driving the 2012 Williams, completed the most laps of anyone and all had trouble free days.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa said that the new car was “on another planet” compared to the 2012 model, “it’s much better balanced.”

The only other red flag of the day was caused by Marussia rookie Max Chilton. The young Briton set his fastest time of the day and then suffered a suspension failure the following lap.

Jerez Test Day 1

1. Jenson Button McLaren 1m18.861s 37 Laps
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m19.709s + 0.848 73 Laps
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m19.796s + 0.935 54 Laps
4. Paul Di Resta Force India 1m20.343s + 1.482 89 Laps
5. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Ross 1m20.401s + 1.540 70 Laps
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m20.536 + 1.675s 64 Laps
7. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m20.699 + 1.838s 79 Laps
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m20.846 + 1.985s11 Laps
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m20.864s + 2.003 84 Laps
10. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m21.915s + 3.054 64 Laps
11. Max Chilton Marussia 1m24.176s + 5.315 29 Laps

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In the above picture I can’t help but think the Mc looks stunning. Best looking car on the grid again imo.

If only Ham was there to take the title, reliability permitting.

I would like it to be Alonso’s year this time, but unfortunately I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrari have a mediocre car, McLaren fastest but can’t capitalise and Redbull take the title again 🙁


Last year Alonso had a bad car and finished only three points off. With a mediocre car he might just do it 🙂


I accept the McLaren will be a quick car this year no doubt but I can’t help feeling that the lap time was possibly done to take away any negatives from the reliabilty issues of the morning & making sure McLaren had the headline time & putting a positive spin on the day.


Hey James, or anybody else that can answer,

Whats the deal with the ‘vanity covers’ on the nose of the car? Lotus are not running one, Ferrari and Red Bull are running one, and McLaren have just gone with a nose that didn’t have a step to begin with (therefore no need for a vanity panel) like their 2012 car.

I thought we had stepped noses cos the FIA lowered the max height of the front of the car for safety. How is it that McLaren are able to design a car’s front end low enough to not require the stepped nose (I know this year they’ve gone to pull rod susp to help this, but they didn’t have the pull-rod sups in 2012), but yet everyone else either can’t or don’t want to?

Furthermore, what is the ‘vanity panel’ exactly? Ferrari and Redbull have said they have them installed, but I can’t physically see it… Is it completely tied into the nose of the car (which would make sense for aerodynamics)? If yes, then what is the point of the stepped nose + vanity panel? Why not just build the nose without the step in the first place and therefore there wouldn’t be a need to add the vanity panel…?

Sorry if this is confusing. I may have totally misunderstood the rules and what teams are doing this year…



Yak covered it better, but one point I mentioned in my original Houdini post that I forgot to mention again was that the panels were originally supposed to be aero neutral – i.e. they should only have a very minimal effect over the airflow of the car – but after seeing some of the 2013 cars I’m a little dubious about this. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two eyebrows were raised in the paddock (and possibly a protest or two) but time will tell.


Cheers Random 79.

I understand it better now, mostly thanks to your ‘steps metaphor’ 🙂


No worries mate, I figured it was worth a shot, glad to see that it helped 🙂


Yeah, as Random 79 said, the 2013 McLaren’s front isn’t like 2012’s where they just ran a lower front. This year they are running a higher front with lower nose, with the vanity cover on it.

The reason why they’re doing the step + cover thing rather than just going without a step entirely is for aero reasons. They want the front to be higher for airflow, but the regulations force the nose lower for safety. Basically from memory, the regs are worded to essentially say the car can be whatever height at the front of the monocoque, the nose can only be however high, and you’re basically only allowed a certain short distance for the nose to make it down to that lower height. So all that adds up to a higher front of the monocoque (because that’s what the teams want for aero), a lower nose (because that’s what the FIA want for safety), and a rather unfortunate-looking sudden drop from one to the other. The vanity cover simply allows the teams to do this but cover up the ugliness of the step.


Thanks for the replies Yak & Random 79.

Why can’t the ‘vanity panel’ physically been? Is it because the teams have tied it (and are allowed to I’m assuming) into the entire nose of the car? If this is right, then what is the point of the vanity panel when its actually the whole front nose/wing that incorporates the smooth transition and therefore can achieve both the goals of the designers and the FIA (i.e. higher front for aero, and lower nose for safety)?



It’s not the whole nose that incorporates the smooth curves on some of the 2013 cars.

Okay, try this for a metaphor:

If you have a staircase, it has steps. If you put a panel over it, then it looks smooth, but the steps are still there.

The 2012 and 2013 only have steps because of the way the rules are set up with very, VERY specific points at which the front of the car have a maximum height.

The rules could have described a curve instead, but realistically – with F1 being what it is – the teams would have found a way to get around that. Bottom line is that the step is there for the drivers safety, the panel is only there for looks…allegedly. (See below)


Just posted a reply…but it disappeared. Not sure if it registered, so here’s the highlights:

2012 McLaren: Low curve within regs.

2013 McLaren: Step + panel (hard to see).

Pull-rod: No difference, just upside down.

High noses: For aero-efficiency.

Low noses: For safety in T-Bone crashes.

Steps: To force the noses lower.

Vanity Panels: To cover the steps and make the car look nice 🙂


Button must be feeling insecure. Goes for a glory run on low fuel and the press are fawning all over it. McLaren better sort out the reliability. Not a good start for them.

Scuderia McLaren

All is right with the world, or at least my world.

Formula One cars are running round and round a circut somewhere in the world. The sound of engines across other series are being fired up as we speak. Fuel is being burned, tyres are smoking. I can smell it now. Beautiful.

In fact, I am really looking forward to dusting of my 2004 Van Deiman this year and defending my state formula ford championship (again). Might pay a visit to the ol team and see if I got fatter (again) in the off season. Might have to cut away more foam seat! or probably should go for a run. Am so looking forward to destroying a set of Avons in pre-season practice coming soon.


I’m assuming Avons is a rival team?

Scuderia McLaren

Set of tyres.


Yep, in retrospect that makes more sense lol. I’d never heard of Avons before, but you learn something new every day 🙂


Never been critical James, but absolutely no mention of Ferrari/Massa in your post… very strange. Their one of the top teams, they should be mentioned.


The most impressive thing about Button’s time is the way it seem to have got all the other drivers talking about it, the rest of the field does seem to be impressed.


My money is still on red bull, first day is not about who is the fastest, reliability is more important, iron out the kinks adjust a few things, the speed you can work on later if the car is round the top 3 to 5, understanding the tyres changes in the airo here and there will all make it faster when they hit Melbourne 🙂

one of the cheapest things to fixs could play a big part this year if the tyres wear plays a major part…pit stops…it don’t cost much to practice the pit stops to get them down, its is cheaper and easier to save a second in the pit than on the track 🙂



Knee-jerk reaction – Button for 2012 Champ!


That might be tricky as the season has finished and SV won the title.


Yeah, but Andy just bought a DeLorean and a hockey stick.


I’m just too excited!

Tornillo Amarillo

McLaren can’t be bad with that time, nor Ferrari, nor Lotus. Webber I don’t know.

Times doesn’t count I think, really, but reliability and feeling the car. So bad day for Mercedes… Will see it tomorrow.


The Mclaren looks really good already. The times were consistent when Button finally got some runs in. The Mercedes looked reasonable in just the few laps it was out. The Lotus looks strong again as well. I predicted a Kimi vs Button championship. It very well could be.

Val from montreal

Mercedes catches on fire in 1st test of 2013 …. Welcome to Brackley and Mercedes Lewis !!


Today’s times are real and Button was the fastest. Like it or not, if the times didn’t mean anything to the teams why would they measure and record the lap times? The other teams may adjust their cars to make them faster but so can Mclaren. It is a great chance for Mclaren to focus more of their attention to other areas their weaker at rather than focusing on making the car go faster if they want to win the champions this year. Button has already proved he can win championships and Perez has shown signs of a winner. Button has a great chance to win more than Mansell, Hill, Hunt, Horthorn, Hamilton and Surtees.


I sincerely hope your optimism is not misplaced.

I just can’t help feeling that you are getting a bit ahead of yourself.


They’re all still scrubbing the little pimples off their tyres, shaking down all the new components and adjusting the balance of the car. Teams measure times as a matter of habit and so they can compare the effects of changes they make to their own cars. It’s too early to wrap up the season already. How much a team improves by adjusting their car depends how much adjustability is built into it and how it reacts to changes in the track.


The times are basically irrelevant except for the team running the car. Especially the very first session where the priority is on putting some laps on the car to check reliability, gather aero data, learn the tyres, etc. Setting a blindingly quick lap is generally not one of the priorities, and there’s no real way for an outsider to judge what’s going on unless they can get some insider info.

Button may have set the fastest lap, but maybe RB they never even got Webber to really go for it. Or maybe they did, but they had him running higher fuel loads, or whatever. Is the Ferrari really 1.5secs off the pace again? It’d be pointless to assume that at this point. The teams will using timing for gauging their progress, but comparing lap times between cars is largely pointless right up until quali in Melbourne, which is the first time we can be sure they’re all really going for it.


They measure and record the lap times because they are valuable individually, based on what each team was doing with fuel loads and such. So each team has an idea of how much faster their new car is compared to last year, but we do not.

Pretty much any team doing a qualy run on fumes would crush any time set today, but that would not be in any way indicative of the performance of the car after testing, or even the performance of the cars if somehow Bernie had too much to drink and decided to have a race in Jerez tomorrow.

We will see different teams doing well in the times on different days. The times alone won’t tell us anything until the season starts.


Lets just wait and see, the lap times from all the drivers oscillated wildly which suggests that we are miles away from what most of these cars can do, IIRC Vettel was about 8 tenths off the Mclarens in 2011 pre season testing and he ended up walking the championship.


Mclaren looks good, but it’s only the first day and tomorrow seb, lewis and kimi will all be driving so I wouldn’t be surprised that buttons time will be beaten

Scuderia McLaren

Bam! Fast right out of the box. Very good sign indeed. Just work on reliability McLaren.


It seems the failure was on Mercedes engines – if mclaren suffer because of their engine supplier that’s not boding well for the whole 2014 new engines.

Although I suppose Renault had the old dying alternators.


and dying KERS systems…


The problem with the alternators were sorted AuraF1, before the American gp btw. It was a particular batch which were giving them problems, and they corrected it….


Would be ironic if McLaren has the fastest car again and Button wins the championship while Hamilton pouts in the Mercedes fighting with Force India.


Part 2 is possible. Button has zero chance of lifting another trophy. He simply is not good enough.


No irony here, everyone including Hamilton know that the Mercedes was slower than the mclaren and it could again be the case. If in the other hand Lewis beats both mclarens then that will be irony.


I think it would be perfect irony, if McLaren have a car that is quicker than the rest, reliable, and there aren’t any strategy cock ups/operational errors then I think thats a cruel irony at its finest because he hasn’t really ever had that. Lewis isn’t silly, if he knew McLaren would be clearly fastest happy or not he would have stayed. But we’ll know in a few months time how the McLaren is going, I just think its one of those cars that is easy to set up, thank god after so many knife edge cars.


Negatory Tim, silvery is much shinier than irony, but ironies are very useful when a lot of them are placed in a fire.

Please don’t reply to this, it’s just going to get silly.


Is irony a bit like silvery, but shinier?


Hi James, I would like to know about the long run times of Felipe or if there is any website where download the full laptimes. TY!


Regards the technical issues suffered by both Mercedes and Mclaren today, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing = Will have enough time to sort out the issues.

If you recall, during 2011 testing, Mclaren had horrid reliability brought about by their octopus exhaust only to go ahead and have a trouble-free season.

On the other hand, Mclaren had a pretty smooth winter testing in 2012, only for it to go all wrong during the year.

So yeah, if you’re going to have problems, have them now.


Problem is that it’s the same problem as last year, fuel pump.


Hello all,

Where can I get hold of the days times? As per the times we get from the FIA media centre on a race weekend.

Thanks 🙂


Autosport has live text commentary. There is also an app for android and, I presume, apple also.


Not sure if this is PR talk but it seems to me lots of drivers are happy with their equipment and have been saying good things from Massa to Jenson to Grosjean to Rosberg etc.

Now, not sure whether Jenson was just eager to get back into the car but looking at today’s driver line up for the top teams, it appears the day was meant for the number 2 drivers (yeah who knows, maybe it’s a sign of things to come)

Also am not sure about the Mclaren’s pace at this moment in time for we have seen the past couple of seasons that whenever a team shows their arm early, then in most cases they’re trying to hide a lack of performance for instance in 2012, Kimi topped the times on the first day and in 2011 it was Alonso >>> in 2010, it was Massa.

So yeah, Mclaren must have been really low on fuel which is odd because Mclaren usually used to run with full tanks.

As for Ferrari, Massa is really one of those drivers to watch in 2013, for he seems in a happy place and now the car seems just the way he likes it.


Ferrari ended 2012 with a competitive car, so an evolution should be reasonable. It was mainly the early season when they had a dog (and Alonso skillfully/luckily still gathered points). The problem for Ferrari was red bull finally getting to grips with the new exhausts and dominating again – so I expect we’ll see a hell of an rb9 early this season (though red bull ALWAYS sand bag at the tests don’t they?)


It wouldn’t be that far fetched that maybe, out of the box, the McLaren is just a very good car. People keep saying it was a low fuel done for a headline, the time isn’t even that good, Alonso was 1 tenth slower in the F2012 last year and it was a dog, I think Jenson is surprised at the time because he wasn’t pushing the car to get a time out of it.

Its not that far fetched to say the car is just very good.


“Its not that far fetched to say the car is just very good.”

Which to me would vindicate James Allen and co’s assesments on the technical side for which he already got flak for!

Although they had problems in the morning, the car is incredibly fast no doubt, even with or without low fuel. That time for the first day is amazing….


Jenson laying down a target time / base line marker for Perez?


That isn’t out the question.

People forget that he never won a championship, a double diffuser did. 😉


That’s absolutely right – the magical diffuser actually drove and managed every aspect of the car for Jenson that year, he merely sat in it as ballast and didn’t need to do a thing…


Well, well, well…this looks quite familiar now, doesn’t it.

Next up, most of the champions.


Not a single word on Ferrari?


Massa said he could have matched Webbers pace but not Jensons. Good enough for the 1st day of testing.


That should be a huge concern as RBR never show their hand early in testing…still a way to go though


+1.. I thought the same!


Check this photo.. Digitaly enhanced..

Ferrari has hugh rear clearance..


Yeah, noted the same…


I thought the same thing. Maybe Ferrari left journos speechless for better or for worst.


I read on the BBC Gary Anderson´s comments earlier todat. He was very please. Also Massa said this car seems much better than last year. He said he was happy with the car so far.


Will be there tomorrow dslr in hand! Looking forward to see the new ferrari & lew in his new merc, hope they get some more laps in than today.

Curious to see if perez can match button’s pace today.


Enjoy mate, lucky boy that you are!


Thanks mate. Just got back home with 2000+ photos, wasn’t the best of sessions but can’t complain. Going back on Friday.

The Ferrari is a beauty, didn’t see much of Lewis, he had a crash early in the day. The Red Bull was looking as potent as ever!!


I don’t think we can conclude much from that as teams would be running different tests with varying fuel loads as the track starts to rubber in.


Great start for McLaren, the usual suspects up there though although Ferrarri a bit behind…


This is testing…first few hours, absolutely NOTHING has been shown today……….nor reveled.


I´m not sure about McLaren. Today it was important to test many new parts. But they couldn´t because of the fuel pump problem. It should not had happened. Only 37 laps for Button are very few. Then there is tyre management. Button had a lot of problems last season. Today he got very little familiarity with the tyres.


Although to be fair mclaren dominated at Melbourne last year and button won. It was later in the season when the development seemed to fall apart. Winter testing 2012 wasn’t a problem for mclaren with tyres.


But on top of that, he has said after today that the car is matched to what they have in the simulator very well, which is a massive positive, I think that is how he quickly became acclimatised to the car in such a short time. Quickest over a longer stint (albeit 8 laps) than any other driver. The car is good and Jenson can do great things in a car to his liking.

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